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  • paige06517

How to Manage Friends and Family in Law School

One summer, I interned at a law firm in Dodge City. The attorneys at the firm, Dave and Hailey, were so generous to mentor me, and gave me a chance, when in reality I was a waste of time and space. I didn’t bring any skills to the table at that point. But they took their valuable time to help me and I will forever be grateful for that! Okay back to my story - I was sitting there working on a project when Hailey brought me a magazine article about managing relationships while in law school. I read it and found it to be quite insightful, but I also remember being dumbfounded and thinking “Why would that be so hard? It’s just school.” Fast forward a couple years later and I very quickly realized why it is so hard to manage friends and family while in law school. 

Once you get into law school you develop a fear that you are never ever doing enough. Never reading enough, studying enough, you feel like you’re always behind even if you’re not, and, of course, imposter syndrome!!! My first semester of law school, like most students, was the worst. If I didn’t have any plans that weekend, I likely spent the entire weekend in the library. In order to take Friday evening - Sunday evening off of school, I would typically pull 12-14 hour days throughout the week. But even if I did take the weekend off, I was (of course) stressed that I wasn’t doing enough. It’s a vicious cycle! 

I remember the first time I canceled plans with my college friends. I was supposed to go to the pumpkin patch, but that just so happened to be the day I got two midterms back. I even did well on the midterms!!! But there is nothing more overwhelming than receiving those envelopes in your folder. (I still get chills.) I canceled my plans, went home and ate dinner, then went back to the library. Looking back, I should’ve gone to the dang pumpkin patch. Most of those friends are now all across the United States and we will probably not be able to casually go to a pumpkin patch again for a while. Don’t make the same mistakes I did, people. Go to the pumpkin patch! Along with going to the pumpkin patch here are some tips and advice to hopefully make your law school experience better. 

4 Tips to Manage Friends and Family in Law School

#1 Go to the pumpkin patch. Law school, grades, rank, success, etc. seem like everything at the moment. Law school is a weird exclusive bubble and it feels like it’ll never end… but it does. There is so much more to life than law school. Most schools are probably similar in the sense that 1L is super competitive and then people calm down as the years go by. Don’t stop living your life just because you are afraid of how it will impact your grades. I actually started enjoying law school a whole lot more after I got over the fear of failure and started living my life again. So, seriously, go to the pumpkin patch, even during 1L. 

#2 Do what is best for you. I was clueless when it came to law school. And just a little bit of friendly insider knowledge: EVERYONE IS CLUELESS (whether they admit it or not.) I didn’t know how to study, how the curve/test system worked… nothing. For most law students there is a steep learning curve. I remember getting so caught up in other people’s study methods, study plans, study materials, and in reality, they didn’t know any more than I did. Do what works best for you. If that study group isn’t working out for you - leave. Need a break - take it. Don’t need to focus on that class anymore - move to the next one. The same thing goes for weekends. Feeling guilty because you went home and spent the weekend with family while your friends are in the library? Stop. That’s just silly. Spend the weekend with family in peace. 

#3 Fully plan your semester out at the beginning of each semester. It seems a little daunting but those precious weekends fill up fast. Once you get the syllabi, you can plan out the days you need crunch time for midterms or papers. Work around those days and plan time with friends and family and be sure to plan time for yourself. If you have friends and family that live close to your school, consider going to dinner on a weeknight. Fun time doesn’t only have to be on the weekends! Side note: I have been using this planner for as long as I can remember! It is reasonably priced, is filled with Bible verses for inspiration, and I love the format. You can find it here.

#4 Restructure how you view success. This one was a little tough for me. My ideal successful day was completing practice questions or getting way ahead on reading. But some days you are just mentally pooped. Mental exhaustion was something I hadn’t experienced until law school. It took me a while to realize that sometimes doing the bare minimum school wise and then doing laundry and chatting with a friend on the phone were just as successful. Meal prepping - successful. Working out - successful. Dinner with a friend - successful. Reshape the way you view success and this will go a long way!

Looking back, I realize the importance of balance and cherishing precious moments outside the law school grind. So, my advice to you is don't lose sight of the pumpkin patches in your life. Learn from my missteps, find equilibrium, and embrace the joy beyond the textbooks. Your law school journey is undoubtedly demanding, but it's equally vital to savor the richness of life's experiences, even if it means taking a day off to enjoy the simple pleasures like a pumpkin patch.


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